Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The fun, the challenging, the personal: daily blogging the vet way

Happy 2017, dear readers! I'm fortunate to start the new year sharing a delightful conversation I had recently with Dr. Shawn Finch, a veterinarian at Gentle Doctor Animal Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska. Shawn's daily blog, Finchdvm.com, caught my eye some months ago. During our conversation, she shared with me some of the reasons why she writes what she writes and I'd like to share them with you, too.

Shawn Finch, DVM

Shawn started blogging in 2006 and her first blog, Riley and James, was prompted into existence by one of Shawn's brothers, a web designer. "I first wanted to get the word out about preventative veterinary care," explains Shawn.

While Shawn doesn't regularly post to Riley and James anymore, it's still available as a resource. Blogging part deux occurred when Shawn's brother suggested she write shorter posts on a daily basis. "I really liked that idea," says Shawn. "It has more structure and it's been fun to post something every single day. I need external structure to get anything done, so that's been helpful."
One of the many cool things about Finchdvm.com is its color palette. This was something that struck me immediately about the site and I didn't realize until talking with Shawn that there's meaning behind the look. "When my brother asked me how I wanted the new site to look, I was thinking about how dogs and cats see things differently than we do. For example, we used to think that they can't see three dimensionally and we know that's not true and we once thought they could only see black and white and that's not true, either. So I thought it would be cool if the blog was in the colors dogs and cats can see. I've had fun with that."

Love it.

Finchdvm.com has been live for about 16 months now and Shawn still considers it relatively new. However, she's just now feeling the friendly pressure of daily writing requirements. "When I started, I had a bunch of stories and could fill up my post queue without writing daily," she says. Now, she's running out of her backlogged content and is pushed to writing in real time. "It's a bit scary," she says, "But it also makes me think through my day."
Example of the dog/cat color vision palette on Finchdvm.com
This act of daily writing and quiet reflection is becoming very important to Shawn, especially as she identifies herself as an introvert. "Sometimes, with the days in the clinic packed, if you're not able to pick your way through the day, you can find yourself depressed and not really be able to put your finger on it," she says. Writing daily on her blog gives Shawn the space and time to look back on a busy day and internalize it. "It also allows you to think of things from a happier perspective," she continues. "You can write whatever you want. Even if you just gave vaccines all day, you can go home and write about how cute the dogs were. I really like it."

"[Writing]... allows you to think of things from a happier perspective."

Shawn says her goal for her blog is to connect to pet owners. "I get a little tunnel vision in the clinic," she says. "I get caught just thinking through: is this dog sick or healthy and how am I going to fix it. I want to relate to the owner and in a twenty minute appointment, you can kind of do that, but not really. I wanted to look at the more fun side of pet ownership. Not that it's all fun--some of it is sad--but leave the technical side out of it. Make it more relatable. I'm such an introvert and in the exam room, I think that I'm coming across as relatable but I'm probably not."

There have been many things written about the benefits of daily writing, as in a journal, and what Shawn is talking about exemplifies this in a fantastic way. "It's a good stress reliever, too," she says.

And her blog really is relatable. She breaks her blog into three categories: fun, challenges, and personal. Some posts are directly related to her daily life as a vet and others aren't. It's a glimpse into a life that is sometimes vet but always (subtly) writer and observer. It's extremely calming.

Shawn writes occasionally for DVM360, too. (Read about how Shawn's clinic uses underwear as a tool for positivity here.) It was surprising to me to find someone who is so engaged in writing and yet Shawn says the art is somewhat new to her. "I didn't really start writing until I started Riley and James in 2006," she says. "I didn't realize how much I would like it. Once I started there, I just started writing a lot. It was never something I did as a kid or thought I would be good at; I had no formal training. But, it's really fun." 

You see that word Shawn keeps using? Fun. Talk about positivity!  

Subscribe to Shawn's blog for a daily dose of wonderfulness (and fun) and visit her on Twitter: @Finch93.

Until next month! Happy reading, happy writing, happy vetting.